Malta (an ever-evolving destination) has so much to offer. My destinations blog is based on the two islands I visited - mainland Malta and Gozo. I am fortunate to represent one of Malta’s top DMCs, ECMeetings Malta as our elite partner in Malta. Their superior, local knowledge, professionalism and ability to meet the needs of the incentive & conference market are hard to match. You can contact Mark Gatt from ECMeetings Malta, whose knowledge of the island, the hotels and the venues is incomparable.
The Maltese Islands are tiny, yet amazing and unique. Set at the heart of the Mediterranean and packed with history and architectural gems, Malta is cosmopolitan and trendy; beautifully combining old and new. Add amazing Mediterranean food, 300 days of sunshine, great flight connections, state-of-the-art meeting facilities, an extensive world class hotel selection, island hopping activities, great nightlife & unique, trendy and historical venues and you’ll easily see that Malta is your ideal meeting spot. Malta offers great value for money, especially for food and accommodation.
Air Malta flies from London Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dublin and Belfast City Airport. Other Airlines servicing the UK include British Airways & low-cost carrier Ryanair.
5 STAR HOTELS
Our group stayed at The Hilton Malta - a luxurious, five star hotel situated at Portomaso and is a short walking distance from the bars, cafes and clubs of St. Julian’s. The Hilton Malta has 410 Rooms & suites, 21 meeting rooms and a self-contained Conference Centre.
Other hotels I visited: -
Westin Dragonara Resort - 340 guestrooms and has its own dedicated conference centre with the main conference room seating up to 600, either theatre style or as a reception. There are also a further 10 syndicate rooms.
Corinthia Hotel St. George’s Bay - 250 rooms, including suites, set overlooking St. George’s Bay and the Casino. The self-contained conference and events halls, which incorporate the Business Centre, cater for conferences of up to 550 delegates, as well as banqueting and reception facilities for up to 1500 persons.
Radisson Blu Resort St. Julian’s - 252 rooms and suites, all- sea facing. It is situated in a quieter area of St. Julian’s, only a short walking distance away from the vibrant centre. Radisson’s business meeting facilities include a Grand Ballroom, accommodating up to 550 delegates theatre-style or up to 700 persons as a reception, as well as smaller meeting rooms. The ballroom has a large terrace which can accommodate many people – weather permitting.
Grand Hotel Excelsior 439 guestrooms, including Deluxe Rooms, Executive Rooms and Suites spread over ten floors. The hotel holds conference and banqueting facilities with thirteen separate setting designs to choose from.
Intercontinental Malta - 483 bedrooms that include 33 suites, 3 club Inter-Continental floors and 2700 square metres of Conference and Meeting facilities as well as an additional 1700 square metres of meeting/banquet space available.
Marriott Hotel & Spa Malta - 330 rooms including suites, the 1800 sqm conference centre is situated on one all-purpose floor featuring an amphitheatre of 141 seats. There are also 11 syndicate rooms catering for 8 to 350 people and a large landscaped terrace which is perfect for coffee breaks, lunch, dinner or receptions for approximately 500 persons.
The Xara Palace Relais & Chateau - 17 individual designed suites and a separate boardroom for 10 persons. This special boutique hotel is a must-see when in Mdina.
Domus Zamittello – Is a boutique Hotel with 21 room and it is possible to have a complete takeover of the hotel.
The Phoenicia Malta - 136 rooms and suites based in Floriana and set within 7.5 acres of gardens at the entrance to Valletta. The hotel is within walking distance of the island’s best shopping and top attractions, as well as the bustling restaurants and cafes of the waterfront.
4 STAR HOTELS
Sister hotel of Corinthia Hotel St. George’s Bay and located next door to the Corinthia Hotel St. George’s Bay. The property offers 200 rooms, including 10 suites, all with a sea view. This hotel would be more suitable for incentive groups. Facilities can be shared by guests of both hotels; care should however be taken as the two hotels differ in class and style.
This boutique hotel located in the heart of Paceville is creating much talk and hype in the area. With a total of 112 rooms which include suites, studios and penthouse suites, the hotel is a good sized 4* property. It also offers a main meeting room along with smaller syndicates.
Situated in the north of the island close to St. Paul’s Bay, the hotel offers 413 rooms, including suites. The property has a self-contained conference complex with a conference room catering for up to 1200 theatre style. It also has a further conference room for up to 200 theatre-style, plus 5 syndicate rooms. The leisure and conference facilities make this a popular venue for sales conferences, as well as any lower budget incentive groups.
Located on the edge of the historical city of Valletta and overlooking the Grand Harbour, this venue is a 16th century building formerly known as the ‘Sacra Infermeria’ the former Hospital of the Knights of St. John. Offering versatile opportunities for unique events, gala dinners and conferences in a historic setting. The MCC features a total of 10 halls and 9 syndicate rooms over an area of 7,000 m². Seating Capacity: 1000 indoors / 650 outdoors. Themed Dinner Knight Ceremony video
The Hilton Conference Centre
Set in Portomaso Marina in St. Julian’s and with a direct internal connection to the adjacent Hilton Malta, the Hilton Conference Centre offers the combination of a Mediterranean setting and state of-the-art-facilities. The conference centre is spread over 4 levels with plenty of syndicate rooms, pre-function space and has a main conference room which can accommodate 1056 persons theatre style. The HMCC also has its own dedicated loading bay to transfer goods in and out of the building.
The Malta Fairs & Conventions Centre (MFCC) is Malta’s largest international conference and exhibition venue and offers a blank canvas for creating any kind of event. The 7000 m² tension fabric structure can host any type of event ranging from large scale conferences to gala dinners, a concert for 10,000, through to motor exhibitions, fashion shows and the like. MFCC has 3 moveable arches that will facilitate the rigging of production and set infra-structure and furthermore a flexible decking system that can create a stage of any size.
Intercontinental Arena Conference Centre - IACC
Completed in late 2003 and fully refurbished in 2015, the IACC offers the largest uninterrupted floor area, as well as a significant amount of non-core space, in this area. The IACC’s strongest point is the flexibility that an empty hall provides. There is no hindrance of fixed stages, tables or chairs, therefore each event may be tailor made to each requirement and to the smallest detail. Space. It comprises of 1660m2 of uninterrupted space. The high arched ceiling (5.7m – 8.9m) can be utilized to your advantage and allows you to display visuals for your product or service according to your specifications. Non-core area includes 1110 m2 of break out area. Dimensions of 50m x 28m.
300 year old farmhouse set in an orange grove surrounded by a vineyard, you can sample traditional wine and food, enjoy a lunch or evening Maltese Extravaganza, with total indoor or outdoor seating for up to 400 people. Improvements have been made to enhance the ambience and character of the place making this an ideal venue for any conference or incentive group.
The old saluting battery occupies one of the most strategic locations in Valletta, from where complete command of the Grand Harbour can be achieved. It stands on the lower part of the St. Peter & St. Paul’s Bastions, at the foot of the Upper Barrakka Gardens and overlooks Fort St. Angelo and the Grand Harbour. This venue makes an ideal location for any dinner.
Set in a beautifully restored stone quarry the Limestone Heritage & Park. The landscaped grounds boast indigenous trees, peacocks walking freely, a traditional Maltese farmhouse and an impressive waterfall. Also known for its lemon trees what better venue than to enjoy a demonstration of how the homemade Limoncello is produced finishing with ice cold shots. Seating Capacity: 600 outdoor / up to 300 inside.
In the 19th Century this stunning venue was acquired by a noble family who set about embellishing it into a stately home holding various Italian and Maltese treasures. Capacity: Up to 600 pax outdoor/ 130 indoor. EC Meetings Event Video
There are plenty of great restaurant options throughout Malta, from the lively St. Julian’s and the Spinola Bay area, to the charming, sophisticated Capital Valletta and even to the Mystical Silent City of Mdina. You can be sure to find a restaurant to suit any group. The food tends to reflect the location of Malta with strong links to the Mediterranean, Sicilian and North African cuisine.
The Barracuda Restaurant stands majestically on the shoreline, in the picturesque Balluta Bay. The menu amongst other items, offers a variety of Mediterranean fish and shellfish specialities. (Seating capacity: Front Terrace: 22 persons (summers only), Side Terrace: 40 pax; Inside: 90 pax, Parapet: 25 (summer only)
Set atop Mdina's centuries-old bastions, within the Xara Palace Relais & Chateaux, the De Mondion offers a unique fine dining experience, with panoramic views of the island from the terraces. The menu offers a mix of Mediterranean, Italian and French dishes. (Seating capacity: 50 inside, Upper Terrace: 44; Lower Terrace: 30)
The Palazzo de Piro offers excellent views and the building has been lovingly restored to serve as an exclusive multi-functional venue.
The Medina restaurant consists of ancient alcoves and arches and a couple of fire-places. The menu is typically Mediterranean with a combination of Maltese, Italian and French cuisine.
Chophouse is situated in the Tigne Point area in Sliema. Not only does this restaurant have possibly the best view of Valletta, but it is also an all-time favourite for excellent Mediterranean dishes, meat cuts and great wine. Capacity: 180 seated / 300 to 350 standing.
Offering stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and St Paul’s island, Café del Mar is situated on the water’s edge... an ideal place to relax, have a swim, and enjoy lunch/dinner and a drink. The trendy design is all about the sea and Mediterranean sunsets. The venue offers extensive possibilities on exclusive or non-exclusive basis. Seating Capacity: Indoors: Up to 160 / Outdoors: Up to 160
Malta is blessed to have 300 days of bright sunshine and pleasant weather a year. With this in mind, most of the activities are outdoor activities where clients can have fun in the sun, be it for team building, cultural experiences or simply leisure. Activities range from simple city challenges to abseiling, jet-ski and sailing yachts, to snorkelling adventures in the crystal-clear waters.
Whilst in Malta we took part in several activities, such as sailing to the hotel on a traditional Maltese vessel. We toured around the harbour and then departed to our hotel which was a great surprise, as well as took part in Battle of the Seas, which is an exhilarating and fun event for groups Battle of the Seas Video
Another great way to see the whole of Malta, Gozo and Comino is to do the 360 Malta challenge which ECMeetings Malta have created. This activity involves racing around the island in teams via different modes of sea transport. For example, you would go to the first base on jet skis, second base in speed boats, third base in traditional Maltese boats and so on and so forth. A truly unique experience that only an Island of this size can offer.
The place to be for nightlife in Malta is without a doubt, Paceville and the area has a large number of bars and clubs, which always welcome a great crowd of people set on enjoying the night. The clubs vary in the music they play, so everyone can find a bar or club playing their sort of music. Malta isn’t all manic clubs and bars though, for those who prefer to sit and enjoy a drink, many of the bars have small seating areas outside.
Malta also has a number of small tranquil wine bars. For a venue with a difference, these little hidden treasures are ideal for clients who want the group to stay together. The guests can be served premium wines and canapés while mingling between themselves in a more relaxed ambience.
Gozo, the sister island offers beautiful nature with deep valleys, rugged cliffs, crystal clear sea, beaches & coves. Life on the island is original and revolves around agriculture & fishing, offering unique experiences, from high-adrenaline activities in unspoiled nature to very local experiences of culture, tradition and cuisine.
122 rooms, virtually all-suites, offers a variety of options for sports and activity. The Resort caters for business conferences and incentive meetings of both large and small size. In fact, apart from the main conference hall, which accommodates 300 seats, the hotel also has access to 3 syndicate rooms.
The hotel offers 83 guestrooms including double rooms, suites, bungalows and family apartments. Hotel Ta Cenc has 5 conference and incentive meeting rooms which can hold up to 180 delegates at its disposal and the Palazzo Palina, which is a medieval castle where any type of function can be organised.
ACTIVITIES IN GOZO
Again, similar to Malta, Gozo’s activities offer similar choices to the likes of Malta, including adrenaline filled activities, leisurely activities and exploration activities.
An ideal way to discover the island is in the new colourful Tuk-Tuks, so why not enjoy a journey through untouched nature with many experiences around tradition, culture and culinary delights.
Another activity we took part in involved two jeeps, two cameras and two maps! Oh and of course two teams! We took part in a simple, fun, teambuilding exploration task in which, both teams had to race each other across Gozo whilst making a film of our choice. The catch was we had to include 4 different parts of the island in our film. Ours was a documentary and it did produce some laughs when we watched it and saw what the teams got up to! A great teambuilding activity!
For something different, transfer back to Malta on power-boats that take you, via the famous ‘Blue Lagoon’. Or even the more leisurely “Luzzu” (Traditional Fishing Boat) via the Blue Lagoon in Comino, where a brief stop can be made for swimming in this aquamarine lagoon.
An authentic restaurant in the Citadel, for lunch we had delicious platters, which included cheese, bread, tomatoes, capers, olives and homemade ravioli which was paired deliciously with the owners' Gozitan wine. Rikardu produces his own wine and cheese from his vineyard and farm, selling the produce in his shop/restaurant in the Citadel.
For a rustic farmers lunch, visit an authentic Gozitan cheese farm. The farmer will show how the Maltese Gbejna (goats’ cheese) is made.
Overall Summary of the Maltese Islands
Malta is destination that has been developing for many years and the infrastructure has got to an impressive standard, but at the same time it hasn’t overdeveloped. It most certainly still has the charm of a Mediterranean island, with beautiful architecture, warm temperatures, delicious foods, fascinating history and just a feel for that relaxed way of life. Also, the range and quality of the hotels is comparable with any other major destination and can satisfy the most discerning incentive or conference group. Added to this, is the extremely reasonable cost of food and beverages. Malta is now a quality destination in every respect and deserves the support for having worked so hard to provide the industry with exactly what it needs. For anyone having previous doubts about the island we would urge them to try Malta and are sure that you will be pleasantly surprised.
This visit was brought to you by our DMC, ECMeetings